By Hazan Hayaloğlu

02 March 2021 - 13:03

A close up of a girl preparing for IELTS on her laptop.

So, you’ve decided to take your IELTS test, but are unsure about where to start. You’ve come to the right place! Here, our global IELTS expert Hazan Hayaloğlu takes us through her nine top resources for IELTS test preparation. 

First thing’s first

Perhaps the most essential part of your IELTS test preparation is understanding the format and grading criteria before test day. It’s something I recommend to every candidate, as this can greatly contribute to your score.  

So, with that out of the way, let’s look at my nine top resources for your IELTS test preparation.

1. Road to IELTS course

Road to IELTS is the British Council’s official online preparation course. There are free and paid versions, and because it’s online, you can study anywhere, anytime. The course provides access to a host of practice material, sample videos, teacher tutorials and timed practice tests, for both the paper-based and computer-delivered formats. 

The planning and tracking tools help you progress towards your target score, while the resource bank includes a score calculator, test countdown and other resources for improving your study plan. 

You can also use the handy Study Planner to organise your preparation time in the most efficient way, by tracking how much time you spend on each section, and allocating time to areas needing improvement. 

Find out about the different packages available (including the free and paid versions) on the Take IELTS website

There’s also a handy YouTube tutorial about using Road to IELTS.

2. Mobile apps

These free, easy-to-use mobile apps let you study for IELTS on-the-go.

IELTS Prep App

IELTS Prep App gives you access to free practice tests, sample questions, grammar and vocabulary exercises and a detailed overview of all sections of the IELTS test. There are also preparation tips and a progress tracker.

IELTS Word Power

IELTS Word Power helps you improve your vocabulary, which is crucial for all four sections of the IELTS test (and is a key criterion for the writing and speaking sections). Build your vocabulary step-by-step, and learn new words through fun games and challenges, alone or with friends.  

LearnEnglish Audio and Video

LearnEnglish Audio and Video offers selected podcasts and videos on topics such as UK food and culture, everyday life, stories and poems. You can have the option of a moving audio script on the videos, and you can control the pitch to help aid your understanding.

3. Preparation webinars

If you’ve got questions about your upcoming test, you can ask a certified IELTS expert directly, by joining one of the regular free IELTS webinars. Delivered by qualified IELTS experts, each webinar offers detailed guidance and information on a specific section of the test and gives you the chance to have your questions answered. 

Join the mailing list to be notified about upcoming webinars.

If you have not booked your test, but would still like to practise, sign up for free IELTS practice materials on the ‘Prepare’ page and you will be sent free online materials, including one full test.

4. Sample computer-delivered test

If you’ve signed up for a computer-delivered IELTS test, you can request a free full sample version from the British Council, so you know what to expect on test day. Register for the sample test on the Take IELTS website.

You can also watch video tutorials about the computer-delivered test and its features.

5. 'Understanding IELTS' online course

This three-week online preparation course provides informational videos on each section of the IELTS test, created by a team of experienced IELTS trainers.

The course is interactive, so you can share your experiences, tips and opinions with other learners. 

Visit the course page to find start dates and joining information.

6. Official IELTS Practice Materials 

If you prefer printed resources, you can purchase Official IELTS Practice Materials, covering both the Academic and General Training versions of the test. These contain practice tests, answer sheets and sample responses. Two volumes are available, both including a CD-ROM and recording transcript. 

Order them online or find them at British Council test centres and selected book shops. 

7. Top Tips for IELTS 

The Top Tips for IELTS textbook and CD-ROM provides an interactive practice test with sample answers and scores, as well as advice for each section of the IELTS test. The bonus is that it’s prepared by highly experienced Cambridge ESOL examiners. 

8. Practice tests

 Practice makes perfect. And, with this in mind, the British Council offers free practice tests for all four sections of the IELTS test. Timed practice sessions will help you improve your techniques and give you a taster of IELTS testing conditions. 

9. IELTS Progress Check 

If you would like an indicative overall band score for each section of the test, the IELTS Progress Check is for you. This official, online practice test lets you assess your skills before taking an official test, helping you identify areas for improvement and plan your study schedule more effectively. 

The test is assessed by qualified IELTS markers, who will provide a report of your indicative overall band score within five days of completing the test. 

And, remember …

Preparing for IELTS can be overwhelming, especially if you have time constraints. Give yourself enough time to prepare, and don’t book your test until you are fully confident. Make sure you have a realistic deadline, a reasonable schedule that will not wear you out, and an idea of your weaknesses, so you can focus on those first. By following a realistic schedule, there’s no reason you can’t achieve your desired score. 

If you'd like to see the upcoming IELTS test dates or check the pricing of the exam, please visit the IELTS booking page.